THE ARMORED SAINT by Myke Cole was one of the last books I read last year. It’s a romping mix of steampunk and fantasy that feels as brutal as the game DIABLO, yet remains tender in the quieter moments. It was a fun, brief read and I cannot wait to get back to this world.
When magic has essentially been banned, because it could open a portal to hell, the Order rides to silence any offenders by any means necessary. This sometimes amounts to the hard rule of killing innocents, but this is to keep the world from ending after all. When Heloise witnesses such atrocities at the hands of the Order, she begins to question which threatens to destroy her entire world.
There are few things that tickle so much then to read a book around a badass girl. Having a rather feisty daughter myself, I couldn’t help but picture her cheering Heloise on. This is the quintessential book for any girl who dreams she can do it and take on whatever that comes to her. It’s amazing and I have to applaud Cole for being so bold with his choice of heroine.
Yet, while Cole does take some interesting subversions with the tropes of fantasy, there is still plenty that is very familiar and falls slightly into the trope-y category. At its core, ARMORED SAINT is a pulpy fantasy with religious elements; saints, miracles, demons, and a religious hierarchy. The dash of steampunk elements, i.e. the mechs are a lovely piece of flavor that elevates this story and I hope to see more of that in the following installments of THE SACRED THRONE series.
I will say that I hoped for a little more subversion though. I didn’t want magic to be the “bad guy” in all of this and without spoiling the book, I will say that this stereotype never leaves the yard. The religious order isn’t exactly the scouts either, which is another somewhat tired trope playing itself out again. Cole makes up for all of this with great prose and a fantastic, comforting voice that pulls you through the story though. I must have finished this book in roughly two or three reading sessions.
All in all, I would say that THE ARMORED SAINT is worth the read if you want comfort, but brutal read. I love Cole’s voice and I plan on reading more of him in the future.
Content warnings: brutality towards children, harsh acts of violence